Failure happens all the time.
Sometimes, it happens when you try little things. Things that won’t matter much if you fail. Like beating traffic, buying food while it’s on sale, and cutting out Netflix.
These things won’t stop you from bringing your A-game. But what if the stakes are higher? What if you fail then? Say, a failed relationship. A dead-end career. A dream that didn’t become reality.
It doesn’t feel great to read about these possibilities. But to live them? It can feel like a punch in the gut—only, the pain lingers.
The higher you reach, the harder you may fall. And the more times you reach, the more bruises you may get. You see no reason why you should embrace failure.
Before you know it, you’re not reaching at all. Because it hurts to reach for nothing. And you don’t know if you could survive another failure, if you tried.
You feel stuck. That seems like a failure in and of itself.
You’re not wrong to feel this way. We all do, sometimes. Failing isn’t fun, and failing again is even less fun. So it’s hard to want to put yourself out there.
But here’s the thing: failure is the cost of being human.
What makes you superhuman? More failure. Failure may be holding you back now. But, ironically, you must embrace failure to move forward.
Failure isn’t something to fear. It’s something to look forward to. Here’s why:
You Can’t Avoid It
You have many options, as far as failure is concerned.
You can fear it, loathe it, regret it, try to avoid it . . . the list goes on.
But you can’t cut it out of your life entirely.
You’ve failed before, and you’ll fail again. Everyone does, and that’s okay!
So why does failure get such a bad rep? It’s a normal part of life, and there’s no prize for those who can avoid it the most.
But there’s something to be gained from facing it head-on.
By accepting failure and what you can’t change, you can focus more on the things you can. That focus is essential to achieving success.
As musician Isaac Hayes said:
“If you enjoy the fragrance of a rose, you must accept the thorns which it bears.”
Failure and success are a two-package deal. Embrace failure, and success will come.
It Becomes Old News
The more you fail, the less exciting it becomes. It becomes a part of your monotony.
You realize that failure is survivable. You march onward. And when small wins come your way, your resolve is rewarded.
The emotional burden associated with failure grows lighter. The lows aren’t as low anymore, and the highs feel pretty good.
Even when a larger failure knocks you down, you know how to take the drama out of the equation. You know how to get back up. You have thicker skin, as they say. You’d even say you’ve learned to embrace failure.
Treat failure like old news, and you’ll be one step closer to making headlines.
It Proves You’re Challenging Yourself
Challenge doesn’t sound fun. But the rewards it brings sure are.
If you don’t challenge yourself, you’ll remain who you’ve always been. For some, that’s just fine. They might be pretty great.
But if you want something greater, you have to put yourself out there.
The size of the challenge is up to you.
Just know that — once you overcome it — you’ll have to up the ante. As you grow stronger, the challenges must get bigger. Because you’re leveling up.
How do you know if your challenges are fair and frequent enough?
Pay attention to how often you fail.
If you’re not failing, you might not be setting your sights high enough. And to truly know what you’re capable of, you have to set them high.
That will help you grow not into a “better” version of yourself — but the “best.”
Failing a tough challenge is also a success, in and of itself. As James Cameron said:
“If you set your goals ridiculously high and it’s a failure, you will fail above everyone else’s success.”
It Helps You Make Things Right
Verywell Health defines a “negative feedback loop” as follows:
“A negative feedback loop is a type of self-regulating system. In a negative feedback loop, increased output from the system inhibits future production by the system.”
The definition concerns hormone regulation, but it can also apply to those who fail.
A negative feedback loop is a common side-effect of failure. When we fail, we ask ourselves what we did wrong. If we know the answer, we blame ourselves. If we don’t, we play the record over and over again, without any real progress. We have trouble embracing failure and thereby increase our negative output.
This inhibits future production — unless you refuse to let it.
Turn your negative feedback loop into a positive one. If you did something “wrong,” know there’s nothing wrong with being wrong. View failure as a valuable learning tool. Use it to make things right next time.
Failure allows us to reflect in ways we might not have, had we succeeded. Use that to your advantage! Identify what’s separating you from success so you can close the gap.
It Shows You What You’re Made Of
Focusing on failure as a result will erode your courage. Focusing on your ability to fail will create it.
You may be seeking success where others have failed before. You may be seeking it after you’ve already failed. Or you may be seeking it where no one has gone before.
In any case, it takes courage.
Not everyone has it, so use it. Embrace failure. Fail spectacularly. Fail often. Fail until you don’t.
Show yourself what you’re made of.
It Makes for a Great Story
Every great success story involves failure.
Why? Because we can root for the underdog. We can see the humanity — the fallibility — in someone who now seems out of reach.
We can be in awe of what humans are capable of. And we can believe we are capable, too.
You’re the hero of your story. Make it a great one. Make it one that not only inspires you, but those all around you.
Success breeds success. With a great success story, you can help others achieve success of their own.
It Makes Success Sweeter
Without failure, success wouldn’t taste so sweet. You’d have no frame of reference.
Failure makes you spend time in the trenches. It’s muddy, it’s cramped, and you can’t see a damn thing.
But when the air clears, you can see far more than you ever thought you would. And you appreciate the view far more than you ever thought you could.
Failure gives you perspective. It pairs success with extreme gratitude. It’s that gratitude that will keep you successful.
All the Cool Kids Embrace Failure
Embracing failure is all the rage these days.
Tim Ferriss was turned down twenty-seven times when pitching The 4-Hour Workweek to New York City publishers.
Vera Wang failed to make the 1968 U.S. Olympic figure skating team, prompting her to enter the fashion industry.
John Lee Dumas dropped out of law school and left Corporate Finance and Commercial Real Estate jobs before creating the incredible Entrepreneurs On Fire podcast.
I (though admittedly less cool) spent five years on the wrong path before I found joy on the right one.
Everyone defines success differently — and that definition can change as life does. But to achieve success of any kind, you have to be willing to fail.
Winning at Life
Change your relationship with failure, and it’ll change everything else.
You’ll wake up feeling alive. Excited, even. Because the day that awaits you is filled with opportunity. That’s your focus.
You’re not burdened by the challenges that lay ahead. You know they’re there to help you succeed.
You’ll either overcome them, or you’ll learn and refine your approach. Either way, you’re still on the road to success.
Failure is a friend. It keeps you hungry, it keeps you sharp, and it keeps you honest.
It’s that tough-love friend that does want you to succeed. And success, you’ll have. So embrace failure.
Your relationships will be richer. You’ll worry less about them ending and more about them thriving. And people will notice.
Others will want to be around your positive, can-do attitude. It’ll make them feel positive, too.
You’ll feel fulfilled in your career. It won’t just be about the paycheck anymore. It’ll be about being around good people, approaching challenges with curiosity and interest, and doing something you’re good at.
You’ll be comfortable in your own skin. You’ll be proud of who you are and who you’re becoming. You’ll already have a life far better than you ever thought possible.
In short, you’ll feel limitless. You’ll be infinitely happy. And you’ll have a great story about how you got there.
So start your story now.
Fail to Succeed
Failure is the key to success.
You’ve failed before — so you already have the key. You just need to find the door it opens.
To find it, step forward. Lean in to the unknown. Seek the uncomfortable.
And when the opportunity presents itself — risk failure.
Risk it because you have to, to succeed. Risk it because, no matter what, you’ll be better for it.
Face your fear of failure head-on, and do it often. That’s how you’ll become fearless. That’s when you’ll find the door.
The door leads to new possibilities. Endless ones, really. The more steps you take, the more success you’ll find.
What kind of success, exactly, will you find?
That’s up to you. Start now.